In the pre-mortal world I suspect Satan may have had the ability to show each of us, as God’s spirit children, the suffering, pain, and anguish that would result from God’s plan to give all men agency (essential to become like Him). How else could he have convinced so many to follow him? Maybe Satan was able to take us one by one into a virtual theater and show us movies of the violence and horror that would occur in the very time we would be on the earth. Maybe he showed us how our dearest family members would suffer and, consequently, some of us were sorely tempted to believe that Satan’s seemingly painless plan of force was really a better option. However, each of us born into mortality made the final, vital choice to follow Jesus, not Lucifer.
It is vital for us to ask for mercy and to ask to be saved, and not just ask for help. “Help” infers that with a little added strength we can do the job ourselves. But just as we will not be able to resurrect ourselves, we cannot save ourselves. Scriptural characters that pray to be “saved” from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment, don’t ask for “help” but for the mercy and grace of Christ. In none of the scriptural accounts of accessing Christ’s power do you find the word “help.”
Will power and abundance of good works do not of themselves give us the power of the Spirit, the pure love of Christ, or freedom from our sins. In 3 Nephi 9: 20 we read, “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” We pray for a lot of things that we think will help us save ourselves, but until we admit our helplessness and simply, broken heartedly ask Christ to save us, we are not asking the important thing.
Let’s conclude by reviewing a few scriptural examples of asking for mercy (emphasis mine): Alma the Younger: “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness” (Alma 36:18). The people of King Benjamin: “O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mosiah 4:2). Lehi: “And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies” (1 Nephi 8:8). Lamoni: “And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and my people” (Alma 18:41). The blind man: “And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee” (Luke 18:35-42).
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf”: “Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God (Acts 20:28).” (“The Gift of Grace,” April 2015 General Conference). Those who believe in salvation by obedience alone believe in self-sufficiency. “It has been truly said that the greatest of all Christian sins is the sin of self-sufficiency,” said George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl in Commentary on the Book of Mormon, (edited and arranged by Philip C. Reynolds, 7 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955-1961], 4). Of course he is speaking of trying to be spiritually self-sufficient, not about being responsibly self-sufficient temporally. We simply can’t spiritually save ourselves.
What does "I forgive you” really mean? What it doesn’t mean is that I am somehow freeing the perpetrator from accountability or discounting the seriousness of their sin. Their personal forgiveness can only come from God on condition of their sincere repentance. What it does mean is that I am willing to turn the perpetrator over to the Lord, trusting that He alone knows how best to deal with them.
Here’s an example: he adds the word “now” to the “Be ye therefore perfect” scripture in Matthew 5:48 and ignores the footnote that defines “perfect” as complete, finished, fully developed.” Perfectionism is an example of “precepts of men mingled with scripture” that never brings enough truth to sustain the light. Through perfectionism the adversary can change the comforting gospel of Christ into something persecuting and misery-making.
One damaging lie of perfectionism is that we can get good enough and sinless enough not to have to bother the Savior for His help. If we recognize this counterfeit gospel as anti-Christ, Satan changes his tune and tells us that it takes near perfection to get good enough to be worthy of the Savior’s help.
A dangerous weapon in the adversary’s perfectionism arsenal is that he can make covenants and commandments seem like curses because they bring us face to face with our limitations. If we listen to the adversary, we miss the point that limitations are meant to turn us to the Savior for strength. The very fact that I “can do nothing” without the Lord (John 15:5) can motivate us to love Him more because He promises “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).